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Damien Cook will play Sunday's NRL grand final picturing the one person COVID-19 has denied being in the Suncorp Stadium crowd to watch him take on Penrith.
South Sydney's second grand final in 50 years will be Cook's first, some 900km from their regular home at Stadium Australia.
By chance, Cook's parents Anne and Graham happened to be on a caravanning trip when Sydney's COVID-19 outbreak began in June.
It landed them in Queensland in time for the NRL's move north, and they stayed with family in Brisbane to watch the rest of the South Sydney hooker's season.
But with the COVID situation worsening, Anne had to return to work as a nurse in Sydney's Sutherland Hospital just three weeks ago.
It will deny her the chance to see Cook play in his maiden grand final, some eight years after his NRL debut and following his fifth close brush with a decider.
"She's hardly missed a game," Cook said.
"There's a lot (of motivations). As a young kid you look to yourself first, you want to win one and then your teammates and family members.
"Some (of those family members) are up here that have sacrificed a lot to leave their life behind to be here.
"For me it's been great to have them here, but some are back home. Mum had to go back and work on the frontline as a nurse."
Cook has played with Anne on his mind for the entire finals series.
He and his young family were barely able to interact with her last year through the season-long bubble, which included an end-of-year State of Origin series.
Again, the closest he could get to her after Friday night's preliminary final was a FaceTime from over the fence on his father's phone, with his grandfather in the background.
"It was pretty loud so I couldn't really hear what she was saying," Cook said.
"She's doing alright.
"She's been busy, she left dad up here to get to the footy and I wanted to make sure I wasn't wasting his time."
Cook's grand final has been a long time coming.
He was part of Canterbury's squad that made the 2014 decider, but the club opted to trust Moses Mbye at hooker when Michael Ennis went down in the preliminary final.
He is one of seven Rabbitohs to have played in the last four preliminary finals, with their first win finally coming against the Sea Eagles on Friday.
Which is why he is confident there will be no case of stage fright for any Souths players on Sunday night.
"You understand how hard it is to get to the grand final so we've got to make sure we do everything we can not to waste this opportunity," Cook said.